Bugatti Chiron Super Sport 300+
Well, you don’t need the Bugatti, but it helps. Road-legal, automatic gearbox, the might of the VW Group’s mindlessly complicated engineering prowess – it’s one of the more stress-free ways to head for three-hundred. Apart from the threat of tyre failure. Or a crosswind. Or the small matter of the £4.2m price.
And don’t go thinking it’s the only street-legal supercar that’ll crack 300mph…
Ford GT M2K Motorsports
At the Texas Mile event back in Mach 2015, a modified 2006 GT estimated to develop over 2,500bhp (no-one’s quite sure because there isn’t a dyno that can measure it) clocked 300.4mph, but took less than a mile to reach that speed. That’s impressive. So’s the fact is still using a six-speed manual gearbox. And Ford’s old-spec aero. If you’re handy with the spanners, it’s still cheaper than buying the big bad Bug.
Yamaha ‘Silver Bird’ motorbike
Oh, you want your run to 300mph to be even more frightening? Then try doing away with half of your wheels, ya cissy. In 1975, American Don Vesco became the first person to take a motorbike beyond 300mph. Not any motorbike, of course, but the Yamaha ‘Silver Bird’ streamliner good for 240bhp, which tore across the Bonneville sat flats at 302.92mph.
Campbell-Railton Blue Bird
The first automobile ever to crack 300mph was British land speed record-setter Malcolm Campbell’s Bluebird. To achieve this momentous feat, no road-going engine was suitable, so the car contained a 36.7-litre Rolls-Royce V12. With a supercharger. And 2,300bhp. The aero engine was so enormous it practically sprouted from the bodywork.
On 7th March 1935 Malcolm Campbell drove the monster to 273mph on Daytona beach, but complained the bumpy surface was causing the car to lose grip. Undeterred, he stiffened his very proper upper lip and upon his return in September, reached 301.337mph. How’s that for a British outing to the seaside?
If you wanted to be the first human being to travel at over 300mph, and if it was 1928, then this is what you needed: an Italian racing seaplane. Built to set records in the Schneider Trophy race, the M52R variant was piloted by Major Mario de Bernardi on 30th March to a mighty speed of 318.6mph. This made the ex-WWI fighter pilot not just the first human past 300mph, but also the first to top 500kph.
The British may have invented the idea of a vehicle travelling on metal wheels along metal rails, and the Japanese that heralded the purpose-built ‘Bullet Train’ idea, but it’s the French who hold the records for making really, really high-speed trains. The ‘Train a Grande Vitesse’ has been quietly setting records since the 1970s, but its latest crowning glory came in 2007, when a specially shortened trainset reached a speed of 357mph. No leaves on the line that day…
As early as 1990, the TGV had topped 300, but in regular service it sticks to around 186mph. Which must seem a bit boring, really.
If you need a train to take you faster still, then you’ll have to do away with the trifling annoyances of, y’know, actual wheels and rails, and instead build a mode of transport that floats above a track using the force of magnetic repulsion. Or, if you prefer, magnetic levitation, or Maglev.
Currently, the world’s only commercially operational Maglev is in Shanghai and trundles along at a pedestrian 270mph, but Japanese test trains have already been demonstrated at 370mph. And more are being commissioned every year. Wonder how fast the drinks trolley has to be?
Top fuel dragster
A top-fuel dragster is quite simply as quick an accelerating racing car as you will find. Not even land speed record cars can beat these bad boys off the line. 0-100mph takes around 0.8sec and over the line they’ll top 335mph in a quarter-mile, subjecting the people crazy enough to pilot them to over 5G on the way. Madness. But nothing will get you to 300mph quicker.
Spirit of Australia
The water speed record is one of the most dangerous-to-attempt feats in all of human speed endeavour. So of course, ‘Straya owns it, mate.
Spirit of Australia – which was built in a back yard in Sydney in the 1970s – has held the record since 1978, and is the only boat ever to top 300mph. With a record of some 317mph, it’s also beaten the 500kph barrier. Not bad for a garage hobby project – with a jet engine on-board.